Maybe you heard about the app called “Ignore No More” that a Texas mom created. It’s pure genius: It will disable a kid’s phone if they ignore a call from mom or dad. Once the parent calls and the son or daughter doesn’t pick up, you enter a four-digit code and it locks the phone. Suddenly you get their attention.
But I’ve discovered another way to find relevance to my children. Be a Royals season ticket holder. These days my problem isn’t having them ignore my calls — it’s me ignoring their calls. And when I answer, my three sons are now keenly interested in my work, my life, my aching knee. And somewhere in the conversation is that team at One Royal Drive and whether maybe, possibly, they might be able to use one of my tickets.
Truth is, of course, my season tickets, and the playoff tickets that came with them, just might be the only things I own with intrinsic value right now. And their popularity is also growing with my brothers, in-laws and co-workers. But I share four seats with four other guys and even though we bought extra seats for the playoffs, things are getting, well, interesting.
You don’t need to sit in Kauffman Stadium to realize how transforming these past couple weeks have been for a city, two states and fans who love an underdog.
But still there is nothing quite like being there. And everyone wants to do just that.
When your sons are in their 20s, the conversational common ground shrinks to something the size of a thimble. The goodwill earned from many hours of partnering with your boys in their younger years to build a Pinewood Derby ran out years ago. Plus your car took last.
So our common interests have frequently been KU sports. KU sports, which this fall has demonstrated bad can most certainly go to worse.
But all along, there have remained the Royals, and baseball — a sport I played, poorly, and my sons played — with me often doing the coaching. So their interest has been sustained these many years, and when the push to make the playoffs started, baseball often started the conversation but didn’t dominate it. And when the Royals got rolling, my oldest bought the MLB TV package, which allowed us to watch the Royals win and Detroit lose on two different screens. Now that is fun.
These days everyone has a story from the early days, particularly the 1985 dream season — but it was the Freddy Patek teams years before that shaped my fan interest. Freddy’s aunt Marie Peterson worked at Keenan & Keenan and Freddy would visit Great Bend, to pheasant hunt. We were baseball and Royals crazy. My hometown would organize charter buses to attend one Royals game every August. We would drive four hours both ways to see one game, returning with felt pennants and miniature baseball bats that would rest on our dresser drawers.
Baseball, not football, was the sport handed down between generations, and we played home-run derby every day at the St. Pat’s field, just two blocks from our house. I still remember bringing a radio during recess to listen to the 1970 World Series between the Orioles and the Reds. I loved that Orioles team, especially Boog Powell.
Right now, all the newcomers are jumping on our bandwagon. According to the Wall Street Journal, our team has the lowest “hateability index” based on such things as players suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, excessive beards, ridiculous payrolls and whether the team refers to its fan base as a “nation.” (Cardinals are highest at 12.7, Royals are lowest at 2.5).
So with the Royals advancing once again on Sunday, my phone is pinging a lot again. When I get reflective about how a team can be a change agent for so much more than just a sport, I comment to Lori how fun it’s been for our family the last two months.
“Yes,” she said. “But who is using the tickets?”
I’m going to be very popular for awhile... .